At the New Paltz Central School District Board of Education (BOE) meeting on Wednesday, May 22, the BOE heard from former high school coach Anthony Covino, who was an employee of the district in that capacity for 17 years. He said he’d been advised to bring forward his concerns about a coach hired last year during baseball season, who had laid hands on a player and verbally abused him. Covino said he found out about the incident after the fact, from some players on the team and parents. “As a former coach, your number one job is the safety of your kids,” he told the board. “Number two, I’m then bound to file a child abuse report, and I did.”
Before this incident happened, he noted, “the year he was hired, I was asked to resign, because when I came forward to the superintendent [and the] athletic director, and showed my concern about this individual who was going to be hired — because I, myself, was attacked verbally on school grounds four years ago by this parent — it was swept underneath the rug.”
After that incident, said Covino, “I had to call the New Paltz Police, because I was also harassed by this individual, followed, and called at my home. The sad part is, it all could have been avoided.”
Gesturing to an envelope of materials he’d brought with him to the meeting, he told the board, “I have a letter that was mailed to me from concerned parents last year; mailed to the school and mailed to me. I also have my letter of resignation where I stated that the warnings I gave this administration that he be asked to resign by the athletic director fell on deaf ears.” Covino said because he refused to work with the individual whose character was so questionable; someone who was “thrown out of the local New Paltz Little League because of his behavior.”
Covino declined to name the individual in question, but said, “the Athletic Association knows who he is; parents know who he is; you know who he is; you hired him.”
Students came to him, Covino added, to tell him they’d seen the incident of the student who was abused, but were afraid to come forward, because they were afraid of repercussions against them by this coach.” Covino said he believes as many as three students quit the baseball team this year because of this coach’s behavior.
Covino said he was speaking to the BOE because he wasn’t sure “if they were even aware of this situation,” and because he’d been advised by an investigator in Albany with regard to the report of child abuse, to come forward to report this in front of the New Paltz School Board.
No matter what kind of investigation was conducted by the New Paltz district, Covino said, “this so-called coach did put his hands on a student, and verbally cursed him out. And nothing was done. As a parent, I’m concerned about it; as a former coach, I wouldn’t expect anybody I worked with, or a parent, to do that to a child, in any kind of situation. I went to see the superintendent personally, the athletic director and the principal, and nothing was done. I warned them about this man’s character, and the way he does things. I asked them, ‘How do you hire a man for scholastic sports who was thrown out of a local Little League and can never coach there again because of his behavior?’ And within three months-time, this incident happened, and kids were afraid to come forward.”
The student who was abused by this coach “was left out alone, and he didn’t want to keep moving it forward because he was afraid of repercussions,” Covino said. “His parents have called me numerous times, upset about the incident. And from what I understand, an investigation was done with the athletic director and the principal there, and they took the word of this coach instead of the boy who was assaulted, knowing that this guy had a past history.”
The investigation is in progress based on the report of child abuse that Covino filed. He told the board his intentions in coming to them were that if something could not be done about this particular situation, it could at least prevent future incidents where a child is abused.
And in filing a report of child abuse, Covino noted, “I did my job. Now I’m leaving that job up to you.”